Welcome To The Revolution!
New technologies are changing the world in unexpected ways as the fourth Industrial Revolution gets underway. But will it be different this time?
Looking back, the first Industrial Revolution started in the late 1700s and was driven by generating power from water and then steam.
It enabled the spread of factories, railways and steamships and helped agriculture to introduce new methods and improve production.
The second revolution took place toward the end of the 19th century, as electricity replaced steam as a source of power.
It helped create the assembly line, cars, planes, phones and, of course, television and the spread of a whole new culture and way of doing things.
The third revolution began in the 1970s with the advent of the personal computer, the internet and a slew of information technologies that once again disrupted the way we lived and worked.
The current and fourth revolution is identified with a move to digital technology, which is expected to cause more upheaval than any previous period.
Changes are happening with incredible speed in machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, smartphones, the Internet of Things and much more.
One of the characteristics of today’s revolution is that humans will be less needed for the transaction of business as machines do so much more.
Such a scenario is often described as nirvana but now that it is becoming real there is anxiety about what people will do without work.
Some argue that the digital revolution will create more jobs than it destroys and so reskilling and up-skilling workers will solve the problem.
Not everyone agrees, as there are already signs of division and differing lifestyles amongst those with the required skills and those without.
Regardless of the particulars of the argument we are about to experience societal change of enormous proportions.
The new revolution will reward talent to disproportionate levels and cause segregation amongst the economic winners and losers.
Everything imaginable will change as technology spreads into all aspects of the economy and into our bodies and brains to help us function.
The revolution will not only change what we do but who we are, as the line between intelligence and artificial intelligence is blurred to extinction.
And so it is time to think about how we want to live because if we fail to take charge and shape the future we will lose control.
Technology has always helped mankind to progress but this time, for the first time, it will learn faster than we do and operate and regenerate without us.
In order to survive we must understand what it means to be human in an age where old-style definitions are no longer relevant.
So, the fourth Industrial Revolution will be different as it skews the line of separation between man and machine.